Tim Bradley was visibly upset by the controversial outcome of the George Kambosos Jr.-Maxi Hughes fight Saturday night.
Well aware of how difficult it will be for the unheralded Hughes to win his way back into the position he occupied when he entered the ring to box Kambosos, Bradley blasted the judges who didn’t credit Hughes for winning their 12-round lightweight fight at FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Hughes, a crafty left-handed contender from England, seemingly beat Kambosos by consistently turning the former unified lightweight champion, causing Kambosos to miss and catching Kambosos with straight left hands.
Judges Josef Mason (117-111) and Gerald Ritter (115-113) still scored their fight for Kambosos. Judge David Sutherland scored Kambosos-Hughes a draw, 114-114.
When Bradley’s broadcast partner, Joe Tessitore, suggested sitting down with Mason to determine how he scored nine rounds for Australia’s Kambosos, the ESPN analyst candidly criticized the scoring and the lack of accountability from judges when fighters suffer controversial losses.
“Yeah, but you can’t,” Bradley replied to Tessitore during the “State of Boxing” post-fight show streamed on ESPN+. “You can’t. That’s the problem – we can’t ask the judge how he judged the fight or why he did it that way, when it was clearly Maxi Hughes’ fight. That’s the biggest issue in boxing. Another dang bad decision. And now Maxi Hughes is going home beltless. Think about this – he’s the [IBO] champion. He came over here to face George Kambosos, dominates him. Think about that. Now he’s leaving, going home. … Think about how long it took him to get this position and how long it’s gonna take him to get the position again.”
Bradley infamously benefited from extremely suspect scorecards submitted after his first fight against Manny Pacquiao 11 years ago. Though Bradley seemingly lost decisively to the Filipino superstar in June 2012, the former two-weight world champion beat Pacquiao by split decision because judges Duane Ford and CJ Ross both scored Bradley a 115-113 winner.
Nevertheless, Bradley feels for Hughes (26-6-2, 5 KOs) because he uniquely understands all of the mental and physical stress boxers experience and is clearly concerned about the state of the sport.
“This can’t continue to happen, man,” said Bradley, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame last month. “You have to understand like how long it took this young man to get to where he’s at today, have his belt, come here to the States, 33 years old, fight his behind off, don’t get the decision. Now he has maybe three, four, five, six fights to get back to this level that he’s in. He don’t have the energy to do that, man. He stayed disciplined throughout these years – five losses now. This is a guy with five losses, think about that, and loses this match.”
Hughes had won seven straight fights and pursued a bout with Kambosos because it could’ve moved him into position to fight for the IBF 135-pound championship. Hughes’ handlers can file a protest, but it is highly unlikely that it would impact the official result.
Kambosos probably won’t give Hughes a rematch, either, because beating Hughes in their IBF elimination match moved Kambosos into position to fight for the IBF title in his next fight.
Sydney’s Kambosos (21-2, 10 KOs) is now the IBF’s number two contender in the 135-pound division. If undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney vacates his four titles to box in the 140-pound division, Kambosos would face Argentina’s Gustavo Lemos (28-0, 18 KOs), the IBF’s number one contender, for the unclaimed IBF belt.
Hughes, however, faces a lot of uncertainty after this dubious defeat.
“What’s protecting the fighter?,” Bradley asked. “There’s nothing protecting the fighter. That’s the problem in boxing. I’mma just gonna say it like that – fighters need a union or something. We need something to protect us because stuff like this can’t continue to happen. It’s wrong. These judges need to be sought out.
“Something needs to happen. Somebody needs to protect the fighter because trust me, we go through too much through the training to get to these positions. And then it gets taken away like that, stolen from a fighter like that. It’s unbelievable to me. I’m sick to my stomach.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.